Whatever Happened to Avon Bard?


“Among other things, the book imprint, Avon Bard, was known for its surreal, often dream-like and vivid covers. Also distinctive was the white banner across the top of the cover announcing the title, author’s name and one or two short comments by publishers, writers or newspaper reviewers announcing the wonderfulness, brilliance or cleverness of the author. And then there were the illustrations. The cover art for Seven Serpents and Seven Moons, for instance, a novel written by Demetrio Aguilera-Malta and first published by Avon Bard in 1981, features a vivid blue background, a Christ-like figure stretching his arms across the frontispiece and, lower down, heads of snakes, a crocodile and a chimpanzee smoking a cigar while a very large frog sits upon its head. Another cover (The Ex-Magician and Other Stories, by Murilo Rubiao) depicts one set of railroad tracks curving off toward the left, half way up the cover; in the foreground, right, a very exotic, blue-petaled flower (an orchid?) and above that, on tall poles, a narrow awning covering the length of a walkway, the end of the awning hung in narrow flaps hang as if made from a doily. My introduction to the Bard line came about in the mid-seventies when I purchased Eye of the Heart, the classic collection of ‘Short stories from Latin America’ (as the cover blurb says) edited by Barbara Howes. What fascinating cover art: a woman, exotic, with dark hair cascading down over her right shoulder and swept back over her left, a thin gold necklace with a gold crucifix, the slight smile and the gaze—oh, that penetrating, haunting gaze, like she’s studying you, knowing you. Then I saw other books of similar cover design: for example, One Hundred Years of Solitude, with its equally exotic image of a man and a woman in a passionate embrace with a lurid red-yellow sun behind them, and around the figures, a jungle—or, are they themselves part of the jungle, a strange blend of flesh and foliage? Evocative. Strange. And soon thereafter, Hopscotch by Julio Cortazár, with the same style of cover graphics: the white masthead with the black lettering. The cover art: the Eiffel Tower on the left, the moon in the upper right, and a gentleman, sitting on a building, cigarette dangling from his right hand, looking down at a small figure on the street. In front of them, the lines in place for a game of hopscotch. …”
Whatever Happened to Avon Bard?
NY Times: U.S. IS DISCOVERING LATIN AMERICA’S LITERATURE (1981)
Avon Bard series of Latin American literature

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